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Pros: Tons of teacher resources; kids get a vast array of engaging and comprehensive learning tools.
Cons: Learning could be superficial if you don't really dive in.
Bottom Line: A unique, video-driven learning platform with tons of topics and resources.
Teachers can search for specific videos and activities on BrainPOP Jr. using the search tool, which categorizes content by subject, grade, and state or by Common Core standard. Training and PD opportunities, plus resources such as lesson plans, standards alignment, graphic organizers, and more, are available on the BrainPOP Educators website.
Short videos are a terrific introduction to any topic. Use the videos to spark kids' interest on a new topic or to reinforce what they've already learned in class. Try watching the video as a class, pausing once or twice throughout or at the end to check for understanding. Then guide students through the activities you think are beneficial -- or allow students to choose. These choices include literacy-based activities, drawing, quizzes, concept maps, and more. The coding activities are stellar and are extremely helpful for educators who are unsure how to integrate this skill into the curriculum. The real draw is that kids will learn to code in the context of the subject they're studying, and produce a program that demonstrates an understanding of the curriculum in addition to coding.
BrainPOP Jr. is a subscription-based educational video, game, and activity site for students in kindergarten through third grade. The main page is divided into math, reading and writing, science, social studies, health, and arts and technology. First, students choose one of the six main subjects. When they click the subject, it gets broken into more specific categories. Under each category, individual video topic and activities pages appear.
Students can learn about everything from telling time, internet safety, and ancient Rome to dental care and getting lice (what it's like, not how to get it!). Central to BrainPOP Jr. are the videos, which feature recurrent cartoon hosts. Another key feature is the video of the week that highlights a single topic. The site includes tools for making concept maps, building quizzes, and creating written reflections within the topic at hand. The coding activities come in the form of block programming with Scratch or coding with Vidcode, which do a great job of guiding students and offering hints to help them be successful. Individual student progress can be monitored using the teacher dashboard. BrainPOP Jr. also works well on touchscreen and mobile devices.
Abundant teacher resources provide guidance for on- and off-screen teaching. There's advice for lesson planning and pacing and for co-teaching in a team with other teachers, and tips for making meaningful home-school connections.
Bold, colorful graphics and punchy music on BrainPOP Jr. should be inviting to young kids. Students should also relate well to the young animated hosts, who speak directly to them with conversational and familiar language. They use humor, which is sure to engage. Characters narrate what's happening, ask questions, provide examples, and define terms that may be difficult to grasp. This varied approach to teaching will likely suit many types of learners. Plus, the videos don't shy away from tough topics and approach them in kid-appropriate ways.
While the videos are the centerpiece, there are also tons of printable activities, games, and quizzes (easy or hard, printable or online) that help round out the experience. These varied activities go way beyond your typical multiple-choice quiz (though there are those, too) and give kids ample opportunities to dive deeper into a topic and demonstrate their learning in meaningful ways. Furthermore, kids who struggle with reading can get added support, as videos and activities are audio- and visual-heavy. The Scratch-style block programming activities are perfect for all students, while the Vidcode activities will generally be better for older students who have mastered block programming. Overall, BrainPOP Jr. is worth the subscription fee. You can't beat the high-quality educational videos, games, and activities coupled with focused and supportive help.